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IUPAC name (3S,4S,5R)-1,3,4,5,6-Pentahydroxy-hexan-2-one
CAS number 17598-81-1
Molecular formula C6H12O6
Molar mass 180.16 g/mol
Appearance White solid
Melting point

133-135 °C

Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox disclaimer and references

Tagatose is a functional sweetener. It is a naturally occurring monosaccharide, specifically a hexose. It is often found in dairy products, and is very similar in texture to sucrose (table sugar) and is 92% as sweet, but with only 38% of the calories.

Tagatose is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FAO/WHO and has been since 2001.

Since it is metabolized differently from sucrose, tagatose has a minimal effect on blood glucose and insulin levels. Tagatose is also approved as a toothfriendly ingredient.



Tagatose is present in only small amounts in dairy products. It can be produced commercially from lactose, which is first hydrolyzed to glucose and galactose. The galactose is isomerized under alkaline conditions to D-tagatose by calcium hydroxide. The resulting mixture can then be purified and solid tagatose produced by crystallization.

Development as a sweetener

Gilbert Levin upon learning about chirality, had the idea to search for a left-handed sugar. Cycling through the various left-handed sugars, he was accidentally sent D-tagatose, structurally similar to L-fructose. Even though Levin thought that his answer to a sweetener would be found in a left-handed sugar, it was the right-handed molecular form that proved to be a winner. FDA approved tagatose as a food additive in October 2003.


In 1996, MD/Arla Foods acquired the rights to production from Spherix, the American license holder. In the following years, no products were brought to market by MD/Arla Foods and so Spherix brought them before the US Court of Arbitration for showing insufficient interest in bringing the product to market. The companies settled, with MD/Arla Foods agreeing to pay longer term royalties to Spherix and Spherix agreeing to not take further action.

In March 2006, SweetGredients (a joint venture company of Arla Foods and Nordzucker AG) decided to put the tagatose project ”on hold”. SweetGredients was the only worldwide producer of tagatose. While progress has been made in creating a market for this innovative sweetener, it has not been possible to identify a large enough potential justifying continued investments and SweetGredients has decided to close down the manufacturing of tagatose in Nordstemmen, Germany.

In 2006, the Belgian Company NUTRILAB NV took over the Arla (Sweetgredients) stocks and project and is setting up a production site for D-Tagatose with the brandname Nutrilatose, with an enzymatic process method (different from the already published patents). Damhert N.V., the mothercompany of Nutrilab has released the tagatose based sweetener Tagatesse under it's own brand name, along with some other products (jams and some chocolate based products) based on tagatose in October 2007 in The Benelux and France.

Products using tagatose

  • 7-Eleven's Diet Pepsi flavored Slurpee
  • Miada Chocolite
  • Pasco Light & Tasty Juice
  • Shugr by Swiss Diet
  • SweetFiber by Dr. Murray Natural Living
  • Therasweet by Living Fuel
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tagatose". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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